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Operation Wayay Bija-ay
[Date Created: August 12, 2013]

by Jessierec Azarcon, RN




Uprooted coconut trees, houses torn to shreds and denuded mountains were the things that caught our attention as we entered the municipality of Lingig in Surigao del Sur together with 50 volunteers coming from different Non-Government Organizations in Cantilan, Madrid, and Bislig. It was a 7-hour trip.


We arrived at Lingig lethargic, worn-down and hungry, passing by dispersed trash and debris on the streets. But all these were no match to the plight of the community we saw. There, we met other volunteers from nearby towns and provinces. The teams unloaded the relief goods and medicines prior to the final preparation for the “Operation Wayay Bija-ay Medical Mission.” A special thanksgiving mass was held at the Sto. Nino Parish church dedicated to the survivors and volunteers who continue to help Lingig rise from the recent tragedy they experienced.


>> The work is far from over. Learn more about how you can help here!



As a volunteer myself, I believe volunteerism through bayanihan strengthens communities by increasing their capacity to identify and respond to human needs by working together. We saw the impact it made in every individual especially the town folks. They showed inspiring interaction and participation.


Divided into three groups, we had to team up with different volunteers from different organizations. In spite of not knowing each other, we were able to connect and work together for a common purpose, and that is to bring hope and inspiration to the people of Lingig. Our team traversed a steep, muddy and barely impassable road going to a far-flung barangay of Mansa-ilao and the others to the barangay of Pagtila-an, Union, Mandus, Palo-alto, and San Roque. As far as the eye can see, farmlands and coconut trees were left unproductive and depleted leaving them no livelihood at all. I shed some tears not just because I pity those people but because I am still thankful that they survived the catastrophe and it didn’t happen to us.




The group started to set-up the booth and the others went around the barangay to invite people in the activities we were going to conduct. We were prepared to do a medical mission, feeding program and “Paraisong Pambata.” It was very much clear that they lack medical attention for an army of people came to the health center to seek for treatment of their condition. The people were very much thankful that we came to their community and to see them smile even just for a while made this trip a very fruitful one.


It had been already a month since super typhoon Pablo ravaged the town of Lingig and other neighboring municipalities. Although volunteerism helps in maximizing the capacity of multi-sectoral groups to do their mission, it also helps individuals like me to see how I can make an impact in the communities I serve.


 

I volunteered because I enjoy helping others in need, meeting new people and building new relationships to work for the greater good of the community and this country. I am pleased when I got tired and weary because it meant I did something, I made a difference in my own little way.


I could see from the eyes of the people that they had lost a part of their individuality, as though their innermost recess is crying. Some I saw tormented by thoughts of self-destruction and some were in despair. They were like imprisoned in a dungeon of darkness with a heavy heart lifting the weight of the world.


These communities are still in the process of recovering and rebuilding their homes. Amazingly, the “bayanihan” spirit of communal unity and cooperation brought by the volunteers helps these people realize that by working together they can do a lot, and help their town rise up faster.


When we left the communities, my heart wept with infinite sadness, but I told myself to be strong for I was there to give light and hope to their broken lives, for hope is the food of faith, and when we allow ourselves to hope, we allow ourselves to live.


Rise Up Lingig! We will not leave you behind! Wayay Bija-ay!






OPERATION WALANG IWANAN is ongoing, and we need YOUR help. Let us transform this disaster into an opportunity to bring hope to the families affected by Typhoon Pablo. Walang Iwanan!


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